Washington State passes first solar stewardship bill in nation

21 Jul 2017

On July 7, 2017, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law first-in-the-nation solar legislation requiring manufacturers to finance and manage a recycling program for used solar units. The program must provide regional take back locations where solar modules can be delivered for proper recycling at no cost to the last owner of the unit. State Rep. Norma Smith (R-Clinton) championed the product stewardship requirement, saying it "would be shortsighted to introduce a bill that expands the number of solar units in our state, and not have a strategy for safe recycling when they're no longer functional". The stewardship requirement is part of a larger bill, Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill (ESSB) 5939, that incentivizes solar unit ownership and creates jobs in the local renewable energy industry.

The stewardship requirement states that manufacturers who sell solar units in the state of Washington after July 1, 2017, are responsible for financing and providing a recycling program for their units; manufacturers who do not provide a recycling program cannot sell solar modules after January 1, 2021. This recycling requirement covers:

  • Solar modules used on or in buildings
  • Freestanding off-grid power generation systems such as water pumping stations
  • Electric vehicle charging stations
  • Solar fencing, solar-powered signs and solar-powered street lights

It does not include small solar-powered consumer electronics such as watches and calculators.
Learn more about Washington state's precedent setting solar product stewardship law in the Northwest Product Stewardship Council's press release.